Venom and barbed hairs: Why tarantulas are actually quite cool

Photo of a tarantula

Spiderwebs. Big black spiders. Furry tarantulas.

Halloween decorations are often centered around arachnids — the family of creatures with four pairs of legs that includes spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks — of some sort.

(Teach your kids why they should appreciate all nature.)

I think it’s just because spiders and their relatives are considered creepy with their many legs and fangs. Yes, all spiders have fangs, and most have venom in them. However, most spider poison will not harm people because it’s quite weak.

That brings us to tarantulas, especially the Dickinson County Nature Center’s tarantula, Pinki.

Photo of a tarantula

 

Pinki is a Chilean rose-haired tarantula, and the response to seeing her by visitors often is, “Ewww” or a sound of terror.

But Pinki is really a neat animal. She was someone’s pet, and that person’s parent wasn’t excited about having a spider at home, so the owner donated Pinki to the nature center so others could see how neat she is.

Chilean rose-haired tarantulas are found in the wild in the country of Chile in South America. They like the dry grassland region at the edge of the desert there.

They are called rose-haired because in certain light, Pinki’s hairs really do have a shiny, pink color.Photo of a tarantula

Like we said earlier, people are often scared of spiders, especially tarantulas, because they have venomous fangs. Pinki has never bitten anyone at the nature center, and even if she did, most people are not affected by this species of tarantula’s bites. If anything, some people may be allergic and would have a reaction just like a person who is allergic to bee stings.

Their venom is important to them, because these tarantulas can only eat liquids — imagine having to put all your food into a blender to liquefy it before you eat it. When it bites its prey, the venom affects the prey’s nervous system, and its body tissues begin to break down. To digest it, the tarantula spits digestive enzymes onto it, further breaking down the body tissues into liquid that is sucked through the spider’s mouthparts.

Graphic of spider anatomy

We usually use gloves to handle Pinki also because tarantula hairs can cause skin reactions. Hairs on the bottom of their abdomen — the stomach — are a defense weapon for them. The have sharp tips with little barbs that can only be seen under a microscope. When scared, the tarantula will use its back legs to kick off a cloud of hairs at its attacker.

I always think that if you know why a spider has “creepy” things like fangs and barbed hairs, it makes it a little less scary and a little more incredible instead.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Edward Kamenzind on May 22, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    The tyrantulas are truly the best of pets for people who are interested in animals that are like tyrantulas essentially. Easy enough to take care of existing on the most basic and simple as various bugs other spiders occasionally a little mouse and some of the other little things and critters basically found just about anywhere, anytime you want to, of course, nothing wrong with the local pets store to get some more of the things that tyrantulas either really like to eat, or just something else for the tyrantulas to nibble on. They’re quite a bit of friendly and will seek out the friendship of it’s (“owner?”) Friendly “keeper” With serious interest in the actual friendships with which it is making or has made for itself is not super-aggressive to me but seriously enjoys my company essentially not “needy” of course but I think it’s a good idea to have spent as much as possible as far as your time for the little ones are what I have seen and can only imagine how much lonely and I will say forsaken the tyrantulas are going to feel if I could leave it by itself essentially for long periods of time because I have a feeling it will crave attention but I think it’s not a big deal or not annoying or something like that. when I get to my tyrantulas and I have been away from the critters for some time, I will be able to tell that they have missed my connection to them and they will get to show you how much “I love you” exactly is! Mostly because of that they will likely want to cuddle with you if they don’t have seen your face for some time. Adorable, it is of course an understatement to say that the tyrantulas are going to be adorable! truthfully, it’s a understatement of the year and I will dare I say that I do not have a problem with the tyrantulas being adorable at all and in any way whatsoever but I think it’s tough on the more Squamish of people that are generally afraid to be around this animal the tyrantulas or something like spiders ️ in general and actually it at first, it took me a little bit of time to get used to this little guy but I think it’s a good thing because I think he and I are truly inseparable and either way I just love the tyrantulas are truly a blessing to be with me and I will be enjoying his company quite a bit and into the future if I could say anything about it now, I think I have to say that I have awesome tyrantulas! Thanks.

    Edward Kamenzind
    May 2019
    God bless ❣️

  2. Miguel Vazquez on March 6, 2019 at 12:10 am

    I always wanted a turantula but my parents think their discussing and won’t let me have one

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